I have often toyed with the idea of a program that would periodically go to news sources and look at the number of available articles, then crossreference this value with other news sources as a measure of global activity. I have now created a rudimentary implementation of this idea that reads the number of articles on the frontpage of Google News™, averages the number of articles over 10 calls at 0.5 seconds per call, then saves this value to a file. The process is repeated once per minute, and can be viewed in a variety of graphical formats, with more views coming soon. You can see the progress so far here:
Update: I have added a plethora of new functionality, including new color schemes, new time increments, new views, and of course, a help function and the necessary "Beta" tag that distinguishes all cool webapps.